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5K Disappointment

October 9, 2012

Every October Microsoft runs a campaign to get employees to donate their time and money to charity. As part of this, they host a 5K run around campus. Running + Charity = AWESOME. Admittedly, I was at first turned off by the price ($55 is pretty steep for a no-frills 5K – upgrading to VIP for $75 got you a cotton t-shirt and water bottle), but quickly realized that benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue, Crohn’s and Collitis research, and a guide dog foundation was more than worth it!

I’m in the midst of marathon training which generally means long, slow distances, not optimal for relatively short, speedy races. This didn’t stop me from being pretty optimistic. I PR’ed in the 5K earlier this year and (not to toot my own horn) I’ve kind of been on fire in the running department since my half marathon. This 5K course is a little rough, but with the additional interval work I’ve been doing to cap off my strength training I though I had a decent shot at PR’ing. At one point I thought I may have even been able to break 24 minutes, a 46 second PR. But alas *spoiler alert* it was not meant to be.
The sun was shining as my coworkers and I made our way to start of the race. I lined up at the back of the 7-8 minutes/mile heat. It was a fairly large race for the course size (over 2000 participants) so I did a slow shuffle after our heat was released to get to the starting line. Once I crossed the start, I was off! I knew the first mile was the easiest: on roads and downhill. My first mile would need to be under my goal pace if I had any hope of achieving my PR. Unfortunately, I may have been a little too aggressive and ended up with a 7:26. The mile markers were a little bit off, so I was concerned when I passed the first mile marker a good 30 seconds after my Garmin flashed a mile. But I kept on chugging. I focused on a runner ahead of me who looked calm and in control. I made it my goal to keep up with her. From the first mile, the course went slightly uphill. I managed to catch up with my unwitting pacer, but my speed was waning: 8:03. It became a struggle for me to keep pushing myself. I began to noticed how warm it was in the sun and how thirsty I felt.  I started to lose hope since I knew the last mile was pretty killer. It started with a steep decent on gravel. This meant controlling my speed to prevent running into others on the narrow path or slipping out. Then a sharp uphill on the gravel ending in a set of stairs. Killer. From there, it was about a half mile moderately uphill to the finish line. I kept on the tail of my chosen pace rabbit and tried to push myself to the end. The course narrowed a bit on the sidewalks so I had some additional bobbing and weaving between those who were fading at the end. I avoided the photographer at mile 3 knowing I probably did not look my best. 🙂 And so I rounded the last corner, giving it all I had. I crossed the finish line just the girl I was following and looked down at my  watch as it turned to 25 minutes. My final time was 24:58, 12 seconds slower than my PR and 58 seconds slower than I had hope for.

The Aftermath:

I got myself a bottle of water and made my way to the finish line. I hung around there cheering on my friends and coworkers for a bit before collecting swag from the sponsors. I knew that my training and the course had made PR’ing that day an unlikely feat but I still had a lot of fun. There’s always next time! Fortunately, I have a 10K in two weeks to redeem myself. Too bad I think it’s got a lot of hills as well!

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